1 March 2018

And - of course - hours after we posted this online Her Majesty's Government announced that it was abandoning Leveson 2.

Lords call for new press inquiry

THE HOUSE of Lords inflicted a defeat on the Government recently by passing an amendment to the Data Protection Bill demanding the implementation of the promised second part of the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press.

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The new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Matt Hancock, when he was Minister for Skills in 2013

"Leveson 2" would - if it ever happens - investigate "corporate governance and management failures" in Her Majesty's Press, looking at specific claims about phone-hacking at the News of the World and what went wrong with the original police investigation into phone hacking. It was delayed pending criminal prosecutions around phone hacking, then reportedly "quietly shelved" around December 2015. The Conservative Party's 2017 election manifesto pledged that it would not proceed with Leveson 2.

The Lords vote followed a long and heated debate: Baroness Sheila Hollins gave an impassioned speech about her personal experiences of press intrusion and data theft after the death of her daughter. Government ministers, including the new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Matthew Hancock, denounced the vote as an attempt to curb press freedom. Reliant as it is on favourable coverage from certain national newspapers, the current Government is likely to seek to overturn the Lords' amendment when the Bill returns to the House of Commons.

As we go to press, allegations are emerging about the conduct of investigators hired by newspapers that will probably make all of the above seem rather out of date by the time you read this. Watch this space.